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Israeli teens arrested for defacing church with anti-Christian graffiti

‘Christians to hell’ and ‘Death to the heathen Christians’ were scrawled on the walls of Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Anti-Christian graffiti found on the walls of Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey reads 'Death to the heretical Christians, the enemies of Israel,' January 17, 2016. (The Dormition Abbey)
Anti-Christian graffiti found on the walls of Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey reads 'Death to the heretical Christians, the enemies of Israel,' January 17, 2016. (The Dormition Abbey)

Two Israeli minors were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of vandalizing a Jerusalem church with anti-Christian graffiti late last week, police said Wednesday.

The suspect, who are 16 and 15 years old, were set to be arraigned in court Wednesday.

The Dormition Abbey was spray-painted with anti-Christian graffiti overnight Saturday, the latest in a series of hate crimes against Christians and churches in Israel in recent years.

“Christians to hell” and “Death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel” were among the slogans painted on the walls of the Benedictine monastery, which lies just outside the capital’s Old City. “The revenge of the people of Israel is yet to come,” read another epithet written next to a depiction of a bloody sword.

“Despite promises by the government, these incidents continue to happen,” Wadia Abu Nasser, the executive director of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, railed Sunday morning. “If we were to actually count all of these incidents, they’d be in the hundreds.

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“We have limited resources at our disposal. It’s the state’s responsibility to not only apprehend these perpetrators, but to make the necessary changes in the education system to educate against this sort of thing,” he told Army Radio.

Nasser also called on rabbis to speak out against the recurring hate crimes. “It’s time they stopped hiding behind politics,” he said.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack.

Dormition Abbey, which is located right next to the Cenacle — a compound that Jews revere as the site of King David’s Tomb and Christians as the room of the Last Supper — outside Zion Gate, was the site of graffiti attacks in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, hours after Pope Francis celebrated mass at the abbey, arsonists set fire to the compound, causing minor damage to its structure.

Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem (Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0)
Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem (Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0)

In recent years, Israeli nationalist vandals have targeted mosques and churches, in addition to Palestinian private property, on dozens of occasions — including the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, in northern Israel, which was badly damaged by arson in 2015.

Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.

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